'I'm going to shoot you': 2 men held at gunpoint before deputies realize their mistake, victims say

Brooke Taylor Image
Tuesday, August 8, 2023
Only On 13: Deputies swarm innocent men mistaking them for car thieves
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Harris County deputies mistook two 19-year-olds for car thieves, held them at gunpoint, and put them in handcuffs before realizing their mistake.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Deputies with the Harris County Sheriff's Office swarmed a car they believed was stolen, drawing their guns and handcuffing two men that were inside. However, they soon realized they made a mistake - it was the wrong car, and the two men weren't suspects.

It was in the early evening on Aug. 3 in a quiet Cypress neighborhood when Anthony and Julian, both 19 years old, just got back from a gas station. Anthony was about to leave in his Camaro when out of nowhere, deputies cornered his car. Doorbell footage from neighbors shows at least five patrol cars and the sound of a helicopter circling them before they are handcuffed. ABC13 is not sharing their last names since they are not facing charges.

"I was taking off, and moved like two feet, and was surrounded by a bunch of cops and a helicopter," Anthony said. "It was like a movie scene."

The friends said deputies pointed their guns and handcuffed them before asking for their license or car registration.

"He pointed a gun at both of us and told me to get on the ground," Julian said. "I turned around, and he shoved me to the ground. He said, 'Get on the floor. I'm going to shoot you and kill you.'"

Julian shared a video of cuts and scrapes on his arms after he said a deputy pushed him to the ground. Both quickly realized deputies believed they were in a stolen car.

According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, flock cameras picked up the license plates of a stolen Camaro in the area. HCSO said the stolen car was connected to multiple aggravated robberies.

An undercover unit spotted a car matching the same description, but neither the deputy nor the helicopter could read the license plates. A spokesperson said they then called for backup. After both men were handcuffed, deputies realized they had the wrong car.

"They opened the door and said, 'Do you want to know what happened?' and I said, 'Yes.' They told me they were looking for a stolen car and showed me the picture, and that's when I realized what happened," Anthony said.

While it was a major sigh of relief, Anthony's mother, Leslie, wants the deputies to be held accountable and believes this could have been prevented or at least handled differently. She is planning to hire an attorney.

"They had time to run his plates or approach him in a different way. Maybe a traffic stop to ask for his ID or something just to know? And not have them go through that emotional distress," Leslie said. "They didn't do anything wrong. They are good kids. As a mom, I was mad. I was sad. I was worried."

According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, supervisors, who include the district captain, shift lieutenants, and shift sergeants, will view body-worn cameras to make sure proper procedures and protocols were followed.

A spokesperson said the men were given information on how to file a formal complaint with their internal affairs unit, which both plan to do.

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